Archive for Thursday, April 29, 1999

CHOIRS, SYMPHONY TO PERFORM HAYDN, STRAVINSKY WORKS

April 29, 1999

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The concert will feature two major compositions by Joseph Haydn and Igor Stravinsky's "Symphony of Psalms."

The Kansas University choirs and KU Symphony Orchestra will pay tribute to composers Joseph Haydn and Igor Stravinsky in a concert at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Lied Center.

Simon Carrington, professor and director of choral activities, and Brian Priestman, professor of orchestral activities, will conduct the performance, which will include two major works by Haydn as well as Stravinsky's "Symphony of Psalms."

The program will open with the orchestra playing "Fires of Light," an orchestral fanfare by KU alumnus Tecwyn Evans. Commissioned by the Dunedin Sinfonia in New Zealand to celebrate its 30th anniversary concert season in 1996, the work was inspired by an experience Evans had while traveling in the United States in early 1996.

"I was enroute to Minneapolis late at night when my plane flew into Denver after a heavy dumping of snow," Evans said. "The lights of the city lit up the snow, making for a spectacular sight. Snow often slows life down, but provides a special beauty to the landscape."

Under Priestman's baton, the orchestra will also perform Haydn's "Symphony No. 85 in B-flat" ("La Reine"), written for a Paris premiere in 1786.

Carrington will conduct "Symphony of Psalms," which will be performed by the Chamber Choir, Collegium Musicum, Oread Consort and orchestra. Based on Psalm 39, Psalm 40 and Psalm 150, the work "compels us to listen to these familiar texts in a new way, giving us new insights into their meaning," Carrington said.

Composed in response to a commission from Serge Koussevitsky for a major work to honor the Boston Symphony Orchestra's 50th anniversary in 1930, "Symphony of Psalms" is "one of the most important sacred compositions of the 20th century," he added.

For Haydn's 12-part "Mass in D Minor," Priestman will conduct the Chamber Choir, Oread Consort, University Singers, Concert Choir, Men's Glee Club, Women's Chorale and orchestra. Soloists are Vanessa Thompson-Smith, soprano; Holly White, mezzo-soprano; Hugo Vera, tenor; and John Stephens, bass. Composed in 1798, Haydn originally titled the work "Missa in Angustiis," ("Mass in time of stress").

"It was a time of political tension in central Europe," Priestman said. "It was partly because of Napoleon's predations that Haydn returned from a relatively peaceful London to be with his compatriots in Austria.

"Among Haydn's papers, found after his death, was a plan of the battle of Aboukir Bay, which was a great victory for Lord Nelson over the French and brought about Napoleon's defeat in Egypt."

Tickets are available the Lied Center Box Office, 864-ARTS; Murphy Hall Box Office, 864-3982; and the Student Union Activities Box Office, 864-3477.

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